Latin America & Caribbean

Farc deny kidnapping Spanish couple in Colombia

Andres Paris, Farc spokesman Image copyright AFP
Image caption Farc spokesman Andres Paris said in Cuba that the rebels have not been taking hostages

The Colombian rebel group Farc has denied taking part in the kidnapping of two Spanish tourists in the north-east of the country.

"Common criminals" were to blame, as the left-wing group had orders to stop hostage taking, a Farc spokesman said.

The couple disappeared five days ago in the province of La Guajira, as they drove towards a tourist attraction near the Venezuelan border.

The kidnappers had allegedly identified themselves as members of the FARC.

Speaking in the Cuban capital, Havana, where the Farc are in peace talks with the Colombian government, spokesman Andres Paris said:

"We categorically reject this absurd accusation of common criminality and reiterate that the orders of zero detentions are being followed across the national territory," Mr Paris told reporters.

Tourist attraction

Authorities are still looking for the Spaniards, who disappeared while driving in La Guajira, near the Venezuelan border, on Friday.

The kidnappers contacted the hostages' family and identified themselves as members of the left-wing rebels Farc, Colombian authorities say.

Angel Sanchez Fernandez and Maria Concepcion Marlaska Sedano were reportedly on their way to Cabo de La Vela, one of the region's main tourist sites, when they disappeared.

Their car was reported to have been found abandoned on Friday with a damaged windscreen.

The Farc have been involved in hundreds of kidnappings over the decades, but in recent years the rebels said they had given up the activity and have released their hostages.

It is not rare for ordinary criminals to use the Farc's name in an attempt to strengthen their bargaining position, correspondents say.

But neither Colombian authorities nor the rebels confirmed that the group had any participation in the latest kidnapping.

The Farc is involved in peace talks with the Colombian government to put an end to the nearly five-decades-old conflict.

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